As I sit and write here today – Sunday 9th Jan 2022, I am currently experiencing the effects of a severe anxiety attack that occurred this week.
If you are following my blogs you will have gathered by now that I am autistic and have autism’s subtype friend PDA which is Pathological Demand Avoidance.
Autistics experience higher levels of anxiety then the average person and for someone with the PDA element their anxiety will be driven by the need for control and to avoid demands they feel they can not cope with, or even an imposed pressure such as something they want to do themselves.
Some research suggests that underneath this anxiety is an intolerance of uncertainty, hence the need to be in control.
Its funny as before I was diagnosed throughout my life there have been times when I have felt that I can not cope with what will happen next, this is a bit hard to explain but I will try . I will often get a feeling come over me of fear of what will happen next, and this could be I am just at home not doing anything in particular, but feel odd in myself and scared. And I don’t mean what will happen next as in the next day or week, I mean in the actual next second of life as it is always changing. My mind is always over thinking, and analysing and ordering, and maybe its at times when I am not doing something to keep it busy that this occurs I don’t know. All I know is that its a horrible feeling and something like I said I have been going through all throughout my life but at least I now know that it is connected to being a PDAer which has brought some relief as I can now argue with my mind and say “its just my condition making me feel this way”.
What does anxiety look like in someone like me?
Anxiety is ever present in my life and like I said now that I am more aware of why, I am really trying to start to understand this when it all becomes too much – which is often.
Most people when they are anxious will show it. Whether its physically showing it by going pale, sweating or shaking, changing their facial expression etc, they may even say things like ” I’m so nervous” or ” I am really scared”, a person like me will not show it or say anything until its far too late – at this point you would have missed so much of what was really going on and I would have reached a point of complete meltdown.
When I am worried about something I will often use ways to distract from what is going on, I have often used humour to try and avoid what is really happening. This was very apparent when I was younger, I would use all sorts of distraction like chatting away to whoever it was in an attempt to get away with being in a situation that caused me anxiety, like having to do something. People, even my own family, never knew what I was really feeling and how bad it was. Some reading this may think, why don’t you just say how you feel, but it is not as easy as that. I really struggle to explain to others how I am really feeling and in some way don’t want to as I do not want the attention drawn to me.
Someone like me will be so afraid of what is going to happen and may understand the seriousness, (which would add further anxiety), and even more avoidance.
In some instances I could even be smiling, and yet inside be completely falling apart or I could get very aggressive, shout, but not really know what I am saying. The violence usually comes when I have really reached my peak. People who think they know me would be shocked to read this, but it is what I am really like. To be honest, there are very little people who really know who I am.
When I was going through my diagnosis I had to write down points about my life that could be relevant, which was really therapeutic to be honest and it helped me to put everything together, and to my surprise concluded the professionals opinion on me being autistic but in particular having the PDA profile.
There was a time when I was around 12/13 that I recalled to them, I am not sure of my age exactly but we were on holiday. My Mother always wanted to go to Centre Parcs which I would get very excited about, but anxious too as I would want to do everything there but couldn’t as I would find it hard. Anyway, myself my mum, sister and dad were on this pedalo thing, where you have to all peddle. I remember feeling so tired and weak, thinking I cant do this, but anyway we were on it. I was scared and excited, as I can not swim so I was imagining falling in, and so my anxiety was really quite high – unknowingly to my parents. There was another family heading towards us, and I remember thinking, they better not come near us. In my mind I really thought they were going to harm us, however they edged nearer and nearer and I could see we were going to bump – to me it seemed we were going to have a major crash. Everyone was laughing and just acting like it was an accident but I turned around to them all and shouted ” Piss of were on holiday”!
I remember my mum not saying anything, but the family in the other pedalo’s faces said it all. I had no idea it was wrong to shout this out as in my mind we were under immediate threat and I needed to act to protect myself ultimately. My mother made me feel awful for the rest of the holiday, and consequently I kept bumping into the family every where we went …
As I have said, anxiety has been ever present in my life, there are countless times I could share about my feelings and how it has effected me. I do wonder if self confidence plays a part in the anxiety, as I can say there have been times when I have been more confident in myself- such as when I was a single mum, the anxiety was still present but not so apparent. I was though, drinking a lot at that time, so perhaps just masking the feelings.
I love life, I see the beauty In everything, but always feel like I am not able to enjoy anything without the shadow of this damn anxiety. To be honest as I am getting older I am getting more and more tired of it. There is no real answer to this, but I wish it would just “piss off” as I am trying to just live …
Thanks for reading if you have.